dog collar ProtestantStand Firm, the Episcopal/Anglican site celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, has a thread about failure and shattered dreams.

It concerns optimism, pessimism, dreams and career choices.

In the comments three Episcopal priests describe how they came to follow their calling (emphases mine):

desertpadre: … I can’t describe how surprised I was when I finally realized that the the call I kept hearing was for me to come into the priesthood—I never dreamed this is where I would wind up; but then my wife told me she had been praying that she would be married to a priest ever since she was a little girl! I was destined and didn’t even know it. I loved my first career, engineering, and still do. I loved my third career, substitute teaching in the primary grades.

I think it depends upon our making ourselves open to God’s leading

AnglicanXn had hoped for a career in the US Air Force. After a semester as a USAF cadet, he left:

I returned to the same college, majored in psychology, decided to go to grad school, and embarked on a journey towards research psychology and (I hoped) a professorship.  I got further than one semester into this dream – I left in the middle of my second semester, having realized that one must live, breathe, and eat psychology and experimentation in order to be a good researcher and professor.  I was very interested in psychology, but I also loved theology and literature.
I left and got a job in public healthWhile working, I volunteered as staff for Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship at the college in the town I lived in.  After several years, I decided that I like what I did as a volunteer more than what I was paid to do, and went off to seminary with the aim of a career as an I-V staff member.  Upon graduation, I served one year with I-V and we realized that I was not suited to the kind of college ministry I-V was doing at the time.  I decided, with the help of my wife (whom I had met in seminary) to go back to seminary, get an MDiv (I had gotten an MA in theology), and become a pastor.  I worked for a few years while I cranked through the diocesan approval process, was ordained a few months after graduation, and began a four-parish career, which I enjoyed (well,  most of it) greatly.
As a high school sophomore, my guidance counselor (having given our class a series of tests, etc) told me he thought I was best suited to be a psychologist or a pastor.  If my head had not been so filled with thoughts of jet fighters, I might not have had such a wandering pathway to my eventual calling.  But I suspect that the variety of experiences I had, and the mistakes I made, and the people I met did every bit as much for my calling as did seminary.  God wastes nothing.
Not that I do not have the occasional twinge of longing when I see an airplane flying close by – especially if it is military!

Finally, we have Fr Dale‘s story, which he says is too long to relate in full:

Dreams are hard to realize but goals can be pursued incrementally. I have always maintained that I am an ordinary person but have achieved lots of goals. Maybe the dreaded word ‘overachiever’ applies to me. I have always been blessed to hear the voice of Jesus. He is an encourager. I have had three professional careers and loved them all. I was a plumber and heavy equipment operator for 17 years, a psychologist and professor for 17 years and have now been in holy orders for about 7 years … My heroes were explorers … What a truly blessed life God has provided to me.

It is fascinating to read that an engineer and a plumber were called to the priesthood — and that a high school guidance counsellor had the answer all along.

We never know where we will end up in life or how. Ordained ministry is a real possibility for some after pursuing entirely different career paths.